Tagged in waterfowl

August 21, 2014

Easy Riding this Fall


Five bike trails for everyone

Fall is the ideal time for a biking getaway. The cool weather and wonderful scenery make pedaling a pleasure. These five trails are suitable for every rider.

Middleton – Community Trail System

Middleton’s award-winning community trail system is the perfect destination for a fall ride. The system consists of a network of bike paths, bike lanes and sidewalks. It connects bicyclists to parks and businesses throughout the community. During the fall, the best scenery can be found in the Pheasant Branch Conservancy. Ponds throughout the conservancy attract migrating ducks, geese and wading birds. The conservancy’s forests dazzle with autumn color. A 3.5-mile loop around the entire conservancy is a great fall ride.

Vilas County – St. Germain Bike and Hike Trail

Throughout Vilas County, you’ll find more than 50 designated trails, including rugged mountain biking trails and smooth paved bike paths. The St. Germain Bike and Hike Trail is a paved, level trail running through forests and along lakes. For 12 scenic miles, you’ll have a chance to see towering white pines set against a canvas of colorful leaves. The trail connects with a system of paved trails that stretches across the county, providing many miles of riding.

Oneida County – Bearskin State Trail

The Bearskin State Trail runs for 18 miles from Highway K near Tomahawk to Minocqua. The semi-paved, crushed-granite trail surface is suitable for most kinds of bikes. You’ll pass several lakes, including Bearskin Lake, Little Bearskin Lake and Lake Minocqua. If you’re looking for a level trail appropriate for beginning riders, this is it.

Boulder Junction – Crystal Lake Trail

The Crystal Lake trail is part of Boulder Junction’s outstanding network of trails that includes 45 miles of trails running throughout Vilas County. If you’re looking for great fall color, the Crystal Lake Trail is the place to ride. The trail runs from downtown Boulder Junction past Trout Lake and the Crystal Lake Campground. Crystal Lake is just as advertised – clean, clear and shimmering. The autumn-hued trees reflecting off the lake’s surface are a sight to behold.

Onalaska – Great River State Trail

The Mississippi River Valley is stunning in the fall. The tree covered bluffs and flocks of migrating waterfowl combine to create a visual display unlike any other. The Great River State Trail follows the Mississippi River for 24 miles, and a fall bike ride along this crushed-limestone trail is the perfect way to experience the sights and sounds of the fall season.


March 11, 2013

Planning Your Spring Birdwatching: Season Preview

Egret Souring in Middleton

Even as the last snow clings to Wisconsin’s fields, forests and hills, birds across the continent are preparing to make their migration back to the Badger State. For birdwatchers, spring is an exciting time of the year. Here’s a preview of what to expect.

With snow still on the ground, large numbers of Canada geese begin to make their way to southern Wisconsin’s fields and waterways. On areas of open water, you’ll see flocks of coots and small groups of ducks. Backwater sloughs and small rivers attract many types of waterfowl.

By March, red-winged blackbirds and grackles can be seen in increasing numbers in southern Wisconsin, followed by sparrows and robins by the middle of March. The same sequence happens in northern Wisconsin two to three weeks later.

In April, bald eagles, osprey, falcons and other raptors can be seen passing through the state. Sandhill cranes will be heard trumpeting all across the land. In the southern part of the state, the calls of songbirds will be heard by mid-April. Songbirds arrive in the Northwoods by early- to mid-May.

These waves of songbirds include many species of warblers, which have traveled thousands of miles from Mexico, Central America and South America. April and May are prime time for seeing these neotropical beauties.

By mid-May, birders across Wisconsin are presented with a cornucopia of bird species. Birdwatchers can see everything from brilliantly colored orioles to common loons.

During the spring migration, every single day brings new birds. Grab your binoculars and head out into the field. The spring migration only happens once a year. Don’t miss it!

Some good spring birding spots: